Mike col­man

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - UP FRONT -

I re­cently spent a night in York, which I have since been in­formed is the most haunted city in Eng­land. When I told the name of my ho­tel to the cab driver at the rail­way sta­tion, he didn't look happy. “Do you know it? ” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “Un­for­tu­nately.” When we pulled up out­side a big old house that looked like Bates' mo­tel from Psy­cho, I asked for a re­ceipt. He looked even less happy. “You want the world, you,” he said.

I was checked in by a young man dressed all in black. He had an Eastern Euro­pean ac­cent and didn't smile. “You in coach-house,” he growled, hand­ing me a huge, old-fash­ioned key and nod­ding across the carpark. Af­ter drop­ping off my bag I headed to the bar to watch a World Cup foot­ball match. Six pairs of eyes looked up as I walked in, then went straight back to their drinks. No-one said a word.

Now, I'm no Ge­orge Clooney, but these were the strangest-look­ing peo­ple I've ever seen. I fin­ished my beer in si­lence and headed back to my room. The bed was okay but I couldn't sleep be­cause the floor­boards in the room above were creak­ing so loudly all night.

Next morn­ing I went to break­fast. More weird-look­ing peo­ple, more si­lence. The bloke at the next ta­ble re­minded me of Riff Raff from The Rocky Hor­ror Pic­ture Show. It put me right off my food, so I de­cided to pay for the night and take off. When I hit the buzzer at re­cep­tion, the woman who came out of the of­fice looked like she'd been pre­served in formalde­hyde: a com­bi­na­tion of Bette Davis in What­ever Hap­pened To Baby Jane? and Meryl Streep in the fi­nal scenes of Death Be­comes Her.

She asked if I'd had a pleas­ant stay. I said I had. I didn't want to tell her about the peo­ple in the room above keep­ing me awake walk­ing around on those creak­ing floor­boards all night. I was afraid she'd say, “There wasn't any­one in the room above.”

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